JUANA VERGER

Spain 2021 | FINANCE | VIP INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Juana Verger, CEO & Founder of Es Garrover de Mallorca, about the family business, the market response to carob, and Mallorcan agriculture.

How is the company working to produce and raise the profile of carob as a local product of Mallorca?

Since I was little, I have worked close to farmers. I left the country to study and travel, and when I was 21 years old I started working at Banca March, a Mallorca-based financial institution, where I learned about the financial industry and business. I wanted to start a business to evolve the concept of the carob, bringing a fresher concept for it in line with current consumption trends and giving it a new sustainable branding focused on a healthy product that can be consumed in our daily lives and replace unhealthy products. Now, we are seeking to bring this product outside of Mallorca to the rest of Spain and further beyond.

Carob is your main product. What can it be used for?

Carob flour is the first and most well-known of our products. This flour is made through the slicing of the carob. There are many types of carob. Here, we have three experimental plants with different types of carob. Carob flour is made out of the pulp of the carob, and within the pulp are seeds. The great thing about carob is that it has a high amount of natural sugars. We use these natural sugars to sweeten a product without the need for other sweeteners. We would like to see carob become an essential product for daily consumption. It is a natural sweetener that has many health benefits. Carob flour is gluten-free, vegan, locally produced, and ecological. Carob flour is also rich in magnesium.

What has been the market response to the use of carob in recipes?

I wanted this product to be known first in Mallorca and the islands. Some people have advised that I go to other locations, but I wanted to establish ourselves here first. It has been difficult to increase or even introduce the daily intake of carob. Carob has half the amount of fat that cocoa has, for example. We are seeing an increase in the consumption of the product, but it has taken us six years. It has been difficult to turn carob into a product for daily consumption. Starting a project goes through different stages. First, it is hardly known, but then it starts to change. In my opinion, there has been a growth in the use of carob-made products. However, it is challenging to be a local company that exclusively produces these carob-made products. We want to ensure that we have a solid product and then continue to expand. We want to have this product on the shelves of large supermarkets. On our website, we have more than 200 recipes that can be made with carob. We are in talks with influencers and chefs to give them away our products so that they promote carob flour. It is important to note that carob flour is not like any other flour. In its use, it is similar to cocoa. It can be used in milk or to make milkshakes. You can bake bread and add 20% of carob in it, for instance.

What are your views on the agriculture sector in Mallorca, and what opportunities do you see as the sector seeks to become more sustainable?

There are many opportunities in this sector in Mallorca. I am part of the association of ecological agriculture of Mallorca and that of the Balearic Islands as well. There is a great deal of discussion to propel the sustainability of the archipelago in order to increase consumption of local and ecological products. In Mallorca, there are many ecological producers. We expect the use of ecological products to increase. I see many opportunities in the food production sector. We have a great product, and we should evaluate what we could do to increase production. We are thinking of a new line of products, and we have also submitted a public grant request to develop new products. We are seeking to have a domestic supermarket store, as well.